Why Study a Modern Language?

As new students to Burroughs, you have the opportunity to choose between a classical language and a spoken modern language. To help make your choice, consider these benefits of studying a modern language:

  1. Much of what you will be doing at Burroughs and beyond hinges on communication with others. Our classrooms are set up seminar-style to allow for animated discussion and debate in order for you to interact face-to-face with peers and teachers. Taking a modern language continues this emphasis on communication and broadens it to include voices from many cultures. There is nothing more exhilarating than succeeding in your first real conversation outside of a classroom with a native speaker. To realize that you are actually equipped to communicate with a non-English speaker in his/her language and that you appreciate and understand his/her culture provides much personal gratification. It also endears you to those native speakers who can in turn broaden your boundaries.

  2. Since living languages by their very nature need to be spoken and understood, we have installed a language laboratory to let each individual student practice communication skills. The lab listening comprehension and speaking exercises allow you to make your mistakes (and we all make them) in the privacy of a lab cubicle and to have the correct responses modeled by a native voice. This provides one-on-one attention even in a class setting. All our modern language classes go regularly to the language lab- most go weekly.

  3. An exciting possibility for our modern language students is participation in one of the many experiences abroad offered by our school or by other programs. Our German option offers a true exchange program in which our students enjoy a three-week homestay and travel experience in Germany and their German counterparts spend an equal amount of time with us in St. Louis. Our current 9th-12th grade Spanish trip involves community service in a childcare center in Panama, as well as a homestay and travel itinerary. The French Department offers a cultural trip to Paris that incorporates a visit to the family home of one of our French faculty members. New in 2010, we are also offering a Spanish homestay and volunteering trip to Costa Rica, open only to 7th and 8th grade students. Choosing a modern language opens doors to many valuable opportunities for study, travel, service, business and sports around the world.

  4. So often our students say that they learn a great deal about the grammar, structure and vocabulary of English through studying a modern language. When faced with usage and placement of indirect object pronouns, for example, in a modern language, our students often exclaim: "So that's the purpose of an indirect object. I never really got that in English, but now I do!"

As you make your choice, look at your strengths and your interests. Taking a modern language helps with your communication skills, your public speaking, your risk taking ability, your succinct expression of ideas and thoughts, your confidence when you are out of your comfort zone, your understanding of diverse communities and your knowledge of world geography. We'd love to have you join us on this journey to the world beyond Burroughs within the caring community that is JBS!

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